Challenge No. 19 – Rum Raisin Ice Cream

Have you ever made home-made ice cream without an ice cream maker? Better still, have you ever tried to find a recipe online for making ice cream without an ice cream maker?  It is not easy – finding a recipe that is!  My mum suggested this challenge and I thought it was a great idea.  I set out trying to find a recipe and a few times thought I had got one only to get to the last instruction and the recipe would say to “put it in your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s instructions”.  It was very frustrating! And then I remembered, my many (and I mean many!) recipe books in the flat.  I had a quick rummage and found Jamie Oliver has kindly provided a recipe which works with or without an ice cream machine. Yay 🙂

Although I had found a recipe for vanilla ice cream, I kept having a sneaky look online and do you know what I found? One of my new blogging friends has blogged about the same recipe.  You can see read about Laura’s experience at Feast Wisely

Jamie’s book (Jamie’s Comfort Food) not only gives you a lovely recipe for vanilla ice cream, it also gives 4 delicious flavour variations. One of my mum’s favourites is rum and raisin ice cream – she say’s its her ‘holiday ice cream’ but I think she would have it all the time if she could 😉 I know I would!

So for the rum raisin ice cream you will need the following ingredients:-

  • 100g raisins
  • 150ml dark spiced rum
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 500ml whole milk
  • 250ml double cream
  • 7 large eggs
  • 150g golden caster sugar

Edited - ingredients

These quantities make 1 litre of ice cream and Jamie helpfully tells me that 1 scoop is 106 calories.  I however like to believe that anything which is homemade is guilt free, so we don’t need to worry about the calorie content 🙂

Anyway, on with the recipe.  I started off by putting the raisins in a bowl and covering them with the spiced rum.  I covered the bowl with cling film and left it on the side for around a couple of hours.

Edited - rum and raisins

Once I had about half hour left, I got on with making the vanilla ice cream.  I halved the vanilla pods lengthways and scraped out the seeds.  I’ve seen chef’s do this on TV and it looks really simple…it wasn’t! I got in a bit of a mess but I managed to scrape most of the seeds out and get them in the pan.  I added the pods to the seeds and poured over the milk and cream.

Edited - vanilla pods Edited - vanilla cream

I put the pan on a low heat to gently warm for 15 minutes and then took it off the heat.

Whilst the vanilla cream mixture was cooling slightly, I separated my eggs and put the yolks in a bowl.

Edited - egg yolk 

Practical tip: Jamie advises to freeze the egg whites in a sandwich bag to make meringues for another day.  I therefore dutifully put the whites in a plastic container and put in the fridge so I could later make room for it in the freezer – I then promptly forgot to do this and ended up throwing away the whites! Silly me!

I whisked the yolks and caster sugar with a balloon whisk until pale.

Edited - whisked egg sugar

Before combining the vanilla milk with the egg/sugar mix, I sorted out the soaked raisins.  I took out around half and put them to one side.  I then used a hand blender to blitz the remaining raisins and rum together until it was a smooth purée. 

Edited - purée

I then took the vanilla cream mixture and poured it through a sieve into my egg/sugar mix.  I added a bit at a time and whisked thoroughly between each addition.  At the end, I made sure to push through as many vanilla seeds as possible – I mean come on, the more true vanilla flavour you can get the better!

Edited - combined

I added the combined mixture back into my pan and put it over a very low heat.  I stirred constantly, patiently waiting for the mixture to thicken.  Jamie’s says this should take about 15 minutes but it took me longer.  I had my pan on a very low heat and perhaps I could have turned it up slightly but I didn’t want to burn it.  When it was finally thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, I was happy it was done.

Edited - spoon

I poured the mixture in to a clean bowl and left it to cool – this took about a couple of hours.

Edited - cooling

Time to add the rum/raisin to my vanilla ice cream.  I poured in the purée and whole raisins into the cooled ice cream base and gave it a good stir. I then poured it all into my ice cream contained (a simple klick lock storage box).

Edited - in the container

I put the container into my freezer and set the time for 30 minutes.  According to the recipe you need to whisk the ice cream every 30 minutes for about 3 to 4 hours to help break up the ice crystals. The aim is to do this until the ice cream is nicely set. 

When I read Laura’s blog, she mentioned that she stopped stirring too soon and ended up with some ice crystals.  I therefore tried to preserver and when I had reached 4 hours and it still was set, I just kept going with my 30 minutes schedule. 

I got to 5 and a half hours and it still wasn’t set! It was also time for bed so I just left it for the night and hoped it would be okay in the morning.

So here it is…

Edited - frozen

It looked okay – except that the whole raisins had definitely all sunk to the bottom of the container!  It’s a nice treat for when you get to the bottom 🙂

Now, I don’t know about you but if I am going to have ice cream, it clearly has to be served with either hot chocolate fudge cake, a cone or perhaps best of all, cookies!  So I also made some chocolate chip cookies to sandwich together with the ice cream. 

Edited - cookie

Be sure to come back after the end of Challenge 52 when I will be sharing my foolproof recipe for these delicious cookies.

This was absolutely delicious! Dave tried a TINY bit and said “whoaa, you can taste the rum in that!”.  Well that’s what we want – rum, raisin and vanilla galore.  I’ve now got to be controlled and make sure I don’t eat the whole lot before my mum next comes to visit!

Coming up next week, Challenge No. 20 – maple syrup glazed ham! Hope to see you then. 


Challenge No. 17 – Profiteroles

This challenge was suggested by my friend Danny and it is a fond favourite of mine.  I’ve made profiteroles before so I thought I’d experiment with a new flavour to make it more of a challenge.  I decided to try passion fruit cream profiteroles with a homemade hot chocolate fudge sauce.

Danny and his girlfriend Kate joined me and Dave for dinner a couple of weeks ago where we enjoyed Kate’s suggestion of moussaka for Challenge No. 14.  I used this opportunity to also make the profiteroles for our pudding and so Kate and Danny got a full evening of My Gastro Adventure eating 🙂

I’ve used a couple of different recipes for this challenge; one for the profiteroles and one for the hot chocolate fudge sauce

I tweaked the cream filling to build in the passion fruit and so to make my version of the recipes you will need the following ingredients:-

  • For the choux pastry
    • 200ml/7fl oz cold water
    • 4 tsp caster sugar
    • 85g/3oz unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
    • 115g/4oz plain flour
    • pinch salt
    • 3 medium free-range eggs, beaten
  • For the cream filling
    • 600ml/1 pint double cream
    • 3 passion fruits
  • For the chocolate sauce
    • 340g/12oz granulated sugar
    • 85g/3oz brown sugar
    • 100g/3½oz cocoa powder
    • 30g/1oz plain flour
    • ½ tsp salt
    • 1 x 400g/14oz can evaporated milk
    • 250ml/9fl oz water
    • 2 tbsp butter
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Edited - ingredients

I started by making the choux pastry and pre-heated my oven to 200 degrees celsius with a roasting tray placed in the bottom.  I put the water, sugar and butter into my saucepan and heated it over a low heat until the butter was melting.

Edited - butter in pan

Whilst the wet ingredients were warming through, I prepared the flour and salt.  I measured out the amount I needed and placed it onto a square of baking paper.  Doing this makes it easier to add the flour smoothly and quickly in one go. 

Edited - flour

Once the butter was melting, I turned the heat up and bought the mixture quickly to a boil.  Once boiling, I tipped in the flour/salt, removed the pan from the heat and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until it came away from the sides to form a heavy dough. 

Practical tip: make sure you bring the wet ingredients to a boil.  The first time I tried to make profiteroles, the recipe didn’t mention this and I just added the flour once the butter was melted.  I ended up with a very wet mixture which just would not work, no matter how much I beat it.  I looked back at a recipe I had previously used for eclairs (which are also made with choux pastry) and this clearly stated that the wet ingredients should be brought to a boil before the flour is added.  I have followed this bit of advice every time since and it always works 🙂

Edited - dough

Once my dough formed, I put it in a bowl and left it to cool for 15 minutes.  I waited until it was cool enough to touch and then beat in my eggs a little at a time, until I achieved the so called ‘dropping consistency’.  It needs to be runny enough so that it doesn’t clog up the piping bag but not so runny that it will just slip straight out the end.  Ideally, the dough should fall from a spoon when lightly shaken.  Mine was a little runny this time and I’m clearly still perfecting my assessment of the optimum ‘dropping’ point 🙂

Edited - eggs added

I lined two baking trays with baking parchment, using a bit of the choux mixture to stick the parchment to the tray.  I filled my piping bag and piped small balls (a bit randomly) onto my tray.  I then rubbed the top of each ball with a wet finger.

Edited - pipped

I put the trays in the oven and added the water to the roasting tray before shutting the door. I set the timer for 20 minutes and watched the little golden balls rise like the air filled wonders they are.  When the timer went off, I re-set it for another 7 minutes and when golden-brown, I took them out the oven.

I use a skewer to prick the base of each profiterole making a hole for the steam to be released.  I put them back on the baking trays with the holes facing upwards and popped the tray back into the now turned off oven for 5 minutes to dry out.

Edited - bottoms

I then got my flavouring ready.  I pushed the passion fruit filling through a sieve to leave just the juice.  I was amazed at how much juice you actually get out of this fruit.  They don’t seem that juicy when you eat them but there was absolutely loads!

Edited - juicing

I decided I didn’t want to fill the profiteroles too early as I thought the cream would make the pastry go soft.   So at this point I put the profiterole cases and the remaining ingredients to one side whilst our guests arrived and we enjoyed our Greek inspired dinner.

When we were all well fed and watered, I set out to finish this yummy dessert.  I whipped the cream with a balloon whisk until stiff – Kate helped with this as my arm started to ache and she was supper quick!  I then added the passion fruit juice and stirred it through until well combined.

I then put all the chocolate sauce ingredients (except the vanilla extract) into a big pan and popped this over a medium heat to bring slowly to the boil. 

Edited - sauce ingredients

Once it reached boiling point, I set the timer for 5 minutes and whilst the chocolate sauce finished cooking, I piped the passion fruit cream filling into the profiteroles.  I let the sauce cool slightly and then added the vanilla extract. 

Edited - filled profiteroles

Then we reached my favourite bit – time to tuck in! 

Edited - served up

We all agreed that the passion fruit cream profiteroles were delicious and the chocolate sauce was delicious however together they kind of battled each other for centre stage.  What would this adventure be without a little experimenting and I’m glad I tried the different flavour in the cream but it just didn’t quick work with the chocolate sauce. 

The passion fruit cream profiteroles would have been lovely on their own but for me, profiteroles just aren’t quite complete without a lovely hot chocolate sauce!!  Next time I’ll stick to simple vanilla cream profiteroles which this lovely rich sauce 🙂

The chocolate sauce recipe made a HUGE batch for just the four of us and I ended up with loads left over.  Before leaving, Danny suggested I turn the leftover sauce into brownies.  So the next day, I put some of the sauce into a small pot to put to one side and then added some flour (about 65g) and 3 eggs to the rest.  I mixed it up and poured it into a lined tin.  I popped it into the oven for about 15 minutes at 180 degrees celsius.  This definitely was not long enough as it was still wobbly! I left it in the oven for a while longer (I lost track of how much longer) and when it was firm and a skewer came out clean, I took it out the oven.  After 5 minutes cooling in the tin, I turned it out onto a cooking rack.  I’ll be honest, this didn’t really work as a brownie but what I had created was possibly one of the best chocolate fudge cakes I’ve eaten! Warmed in the microwave and served with the reserved chocolate sauce – absolute HEAVEN! 🙂

Edited - fudge cake

Coming up next week, Challenge No. 18 – Philly cheese steak.


Challenge No. 11 – Chocolate Ganache & Cherry Tart

This dish was suggested by an old family friend, Rachel, who has as big a love for food as me.  Rachel asked me to make dark chocolate ganache tart with black cherries.  I made this challenge with morello cherries – I’m not sure whether they are technically “black cherries” but the overall product is close enough to Rachel’s request.  I was quite happy that someone suggested something like this.  I’ve not spent much time making pastry but I did buy a tart tin last year which, thus far, has only been used to make the sponge base for a giant Jaffa cake.  Finally, I had a good excuse to have a go with pastry and to use my tin, which by the way my boyfriend thought was a wasted purchase! The tin has now been used twice in about 10 months so it is definitely a worthwhile purchase…right? 😉

Anyway, on with the recipe.  I spent quite a lot of time searching for a recipe for this challenge and still didn’t manage to find one which ticked all the boxes.  So I kind of improvised and use this recipe for the main tart but was a little creative with the cherry part.

To main recipe requires the following ingredients:-

  • For the pastry
    • 250g/9oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
    • pinch salt
    • 125g/4½oz cold butter
    • 3 free-range egg yolks
    • 125g/4½oz caster sugar
  • For the filling
    • 400ml/14fl oz double cream
    • few drops vanilla extract
    • 100g/3½oz caster sugar
    • 400g/14oz dark chocolate, approx 70 per cent cocoa solids
    • 50g/2oz butter
  • For the sauce
    • 250ml/9fl oz single cream
    • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
    • 100g/3½oz white chocolate, chopped
    • raspberries and fresh mint sprigs, to serve

And then you’ll also need the following:-

  • 350g frozen cherries
  • 3tbsp sugar
  • 1.5 tbsp cherry juice

Edited - ingredients

I started by preparing my cherries because I wanted these to have plenty of time to cool down.  I took out 12 of the best looking cherries and put these to one side.  I popped the rest of the cherries, the sugar and juice into my saucepan and bought it to the boil.  I let it simmer away for about 10 minutes and then removed it from the heat.  I left the cherry mix in the saucepan to cool completely.

I then got started on the pastry case.  I put the flour, salt and the chilled butter into my food processor and pulsed it until I had a breadcrumb looking result.  If you don’t have a food processor you can rub the butter and flour together by hand.

Practical tip: if doing this first stage by hand, make sure your hands are cold.  Warm hands will begin to melt the butter and the mix will become too wet.  If, like me, your hands are prone to being warm, run them under a cold tap for a while and dry them thoroughly before you get started.  Repeat this cooling process periodically to make sure your hands don’t warm up too much.

Edited - Breadcrumb

With my breadcrumb mix ready, I added the caster sugar and egg yolks to my processor.  I then tried to pulse this until a dough formed but there was too much mix for my processor.  I decided to tip it out into a bowl and bought it together by hand, being careful not to overwork the dough.  I covered it with cling film and popped it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Edited - dough ready for the fridge

When the pastry dough was nearly ready, I prepared my tart tin. The recipe doesn’t tell you what you need to do here and I wasn’t too certain if I actually needed to do anything.  A quick google confirmed I should grease the tin.  I just used a bit of butter and my fingers to make sure the base and sides were greased properly.

Once the 30 minutes were up, I floured my worktop ready to roll out the pastry.  I used quite a lot of flour because the last time I made pastry, it got stuck! I also floured my rolling pin and got started.

Practical tip: when rolling out pastry (or fondant, or pretty much anything you want to roll), always roll from the middle up and middle down.  If you roll from top to bottom you’ll end up with a really fat bottom, whereas rolling from the middle helps to keep an even thickness all the way through.

Once my pastry was the right size, I rolled one side onto my rolling pin, picked up the pastry and laid it into my greased tin.  Turns out, I was a bit overzealous about how big I needed to roll out and I had quite a lot of offcuts! Something to practice for next time 🙂  Anyway, I trimmed away the excess, put the baking paper and rice in place and popped it into the oven for 15 minutes.

Edited - lined tin Edited - bp and rice

When the timer went off, I removed the rice and baking paper and returned it to the oven for 5 minutes.  My edges had browned more than the middle and I think this is because I cut the baking paper too small.  By the time I had added the chocolate filling this didn’t matter but next time, I will try avoid this by leaving the baking paper a bit bigger so the edges aren’t as exposed.

After the final bit of cooking time was over, I took the pastry out of the oven and left it in the tin for 5 minutes to cool.  I removed the pastry from the tin and put it onto a rack to cool completely.

Edited - cooked base

I then got started on the chocolate mix.  I added the double cream, sugar and vanilla extract to a pan and bought this to the boil.  Whilst it was heating, I put the dark chocolate and butter into a large bowl.  When the cream was nice and hot (be carefully not to burn it!), I poured it over the chocolate and butter.  It only took a few seconds to start melting and after a little use of my hand-held whisk I had a lovely smooth rich looking ganache.

Edited - butter and chocEdited - Chocolate genache

At this point, we come back to the improvisation and the, by now, forgotten cherries.  I drained the cherries from the liquid and placed them into the base of my tart. I then poured my chocolate ganache over the top and levelled it off with a spatula.  I also did a little fancy pattern work with a fork, just because I could 🙂 Finally, I placed my 12 reserved cherries around the outside (this is a neat little way to control portion sizes, 1 cherry per slice).

Edited - cherry lined base Edited - top

I let the ganache cool for around 15 minutes and then put the tart into the fridge for 2 hours. 

With the chocolate set, I got started on the final element – the white chocolate cream sauce.  I put half the single cream into a pan with the vanilla pod to warm through.  Once warm (but not hot) I removed it from the heat, took out the vanilla pod and added the white chocolate.  When the chocolate had melted completed, I added the remaining cream.

I drizzled a bit of the white chocolate cream over my tart and served up.

Edited - sliced Edited - slice

Two words to describe this dish – chocolatey goodness!!  It was very rich which meant you didn’t need a big portion but it was oh so good (meaning I wanted a big portion!). 

Personally I thought the white chocolate cream, whilst yummy, was a little unnecessary.  Perhaps this is because I wasn’t serving the tart as a dessert but more of a sweet snack.  It also ended up running into the chocolate and not looking as pretty I had hoped.  Next time, I think I will just melt some white chocolate to drizzle over the top and, if served as a dessert, I’ll have it with some normal cream.    

Just one final thought on this challenge.  More cherries!  I love cherries and I think this could have done with a few more so when I make it again, I’ll probably double the amount.

Coming up next week, Challenge No. 12 – fish and chips.